Adobe has updated its developer tools for interactive content, releasing a new design tool for creating user interfaces and an enhanced version of its Flex Builder application, now renamed Flash Builder 4.
Flash Catalyst, available to download as a beta for Windows and Mac OS X from today, is intended to improve workflow when developing interactive applications using Adobe's Flash platform. Flash Builder 4 is also currently available in beta.
Catalyst lets designers bring in static visual designs from a graphics package such as Adobe's Illustrator and convert them to user interface objects such as on-screen buttons, producing XML code that describes the user interface.
"It lets you iterate between visual design and interactive design, before passing the project on to a developer to focus on the business logic," said Andrew Shorten, platform evangelist for Adobe.
"Now I can take the exact assets from the design stage and convert these directly into code," he added.
Catalyst essentially lets an interaction designer stitch together the application workflow and compile and run the results in Flash player using sample 'design time data' to check everything is working as expected.
The final output is a file containing ActionScript code and XML defining the graphics.
"This means you can work with a single set of project files from the design through to the coding phase," said Shorten.
Developers work on the code in the newly renamed Flash Builder, which has been enhanced with new features.
The most significant is improved connection to and management of data sources to help speed creation of data-centric applications, Adobe said.
"It has support for paging, so for example, if you got tens of thousands of rows of information coming in from a data source, it’s how you present that to the user," said Shorten.
Catalyst can even create the bare bones of the code required to access the data.
Later this year, Adobe will have entirely new releases of Flash Builder and its Flex framework, Shorten added.
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